Monday, November 30, 2020

Masks, a word, and a memory


There's a Christmas song that includes the line "Don we now our gay apparel."  This slight change seems very appropriate as we get to December in this pandemic year of 2020:  "Don we now our plague apparel."  Yeah, wear your face mask whenever you go out.  Merriam-Webster's top word for 2020 is pandemic, which can be a noun or an adjective.
pan·dem·ic / panˈdemik / Noun = an outbreak of a pandemic disease.  Example:  "There was an influenza pandemic in 1918, and now we have a coronavirus pandemic in 2020."  Adjective = (of a disease) prevalent over a whole country or the world.  Similar adjectives:  widespread, prevalent, pervasive, rampant, epidemic, rife, universal, global.  Example:  "Some of us are suffering from pandemic malaise."
I'm sure that I'm not the only one to wonder about the difference between "pandemic" and "epidemic" (see the list of similar adjectives).
"An outbreak is called an epidemic when there is a sudden increase in cases.  As COVID-19 began spreading in Wuhan, China, it became an epidemic.  Because the disease then spread across several countries and affected a large number of people, it was classified as a pandemic."
A memory
"The man brought his attention back to her, as if he had just been woken from a deep sleep, his eyes moving slowly reminding her of a patient after an operation, when the effects of ether were still evident, before full consciousness had been regained" (pp. 248-249 of Among the Mad: A Maisie Dobbs Novel, 2009).
Maisie had been a nurse on the battlefield during World War One, which was called the Great War.  Ether was used as a general anesthetic, until non-flammable drugs were developed.  In other words, ether was used back in the olden days.  I'm an "olden" person, then, because I remember that ether was used to put me to sleep when my tonsils were removed when I was four years old in 1944.  No, actually, what I remember is Mother telling the story about my pediatrician trying to put me to sleep.

Dr. Starr held the cone or mask or whatever over my face for awhile, then removed it to see if I was asleep yet.  I said, "Boo."  He did it again, maybe waiting longer, and again I said, "Boo."  Eventually, I had to breathe and the ether got to me so they could remove my tonsils.  When I woke in an adjoining recovery room, Mother asked me, "Why wouldn't you breathe for Dr. Starr?"  My response was, "I didn't like that ole PEW-fume."

Saturday, November 28, 2020

A Christmas tree and a cartoon (with analysis)

This Christmas tree is in Sharon's room at Vanderbilt Hospital.  She's been there more than two weeks, this time.  Look closely, and what do you see?  I see little signs on the tree.  I see HOPE.  I see JOY.  I see PEACE.  I see NOEL.  I see MERRY and BRIGHT.  And under the tree I see a paper airplane with wings, the paper folded and ready to fly.  I also see a round flying machine, paper folded the way I showed my children when they were young.  Yes, it can fly, too.  Thanks, David, I'd forgotten we could do it that way.  (Click on the photo to enlarge it.)

My English-teacher friend Donna wrote on Facebook:  "And we wonder why so many grow up hating to read."

Friday, November 27, 2020

Five things I ate for Thanksgiving

Colleen wrote about I Got My Turkey and Gravy and All the Fixings Fix today on her blog.  I decided to bring back the Friday Five that I used to do, but this time I'll choose whatever five things I want to blog about.  Inspired by Colleen's title, I'm listing five things I ate for Thanksgiving, even though that isn't exactly what she wrote about.  Sorry, I didn't think to take a picture of the meal.

1.  Turkey and gravy, of course.  Some people even call it Turkey Day, you know.
2.  Sweet potatoes that were perfectly cooked and melted in my mouth.
3.  Dressing that tasted so much like my mother's, it surprised me, since I didn't make the meal myself.
4.  Cranberry sauce that was simply delicious.
5.  Pumpkin pie for dessert, which was a perfect ending for the meal.

Did you notice I said I didn't make the meal myself?  Temple Israel here in St. Louis sent these scrumptious meals to Crown Center residents.  There was more in my boxed meal than the five foods I've named, but I picked the tastes I most enjoyed.  These five brought back memories of my family around our table at Thanksgiving, eating what my mother had prepared.  Sending a huge thanks to Temple Israel for the wonderful Thanksgiving meals.  I'll tell Colleen that I also got my "food fix."

Beginning ~ on a hill in the summer sun

California, August 1914
"Michael Clifton stood on a hill burnished gold in the summer sun and, hands on hips, closed his eyes.  The landscape before him had been scored into his mind's eye, and an onlooker might have noticed his chin move as he traced the pitch and curve of the hills, the lines of the valley, places where water ran in winter, gullies where the ground underfoot might become soft and rises where the rock would never yield to a pick."

The Mapping of Love and Death: A Maisie Dobbs Novel (Book #7) ~ by Jacqueline Winspear, 2010, fiction (England)
August 1914.  As Michael Clifton is mapping land he has just purchased in California's beautiful Santa Ynez Valley, war is declared in Europe — and duty-bound to his father's native country, the young cartographer soon sets sail for England to serve in the British army.  Three years later, he is listed as missing in action.

April 1932.  After Michael's remains are unearthed in France, his parents retain London psychologist and investigator Maisie Dobbs, hoping she can find the unnamed nurse whose love letters were among their late son's belongings.  It is a quest that leads Maisie back to her own bittersweet wartime love — and to the stunning discovery that Michael Clifton was murdered in his dugout.  Suddenly an exposed web of intrigue and violence threatens to ensnare the dead soldier's family and even Maisie herself as she attempts to cope with the impending loss of her mentor and the unsettling awareness that she is once again falling in love.

Gilion at Rose City Reader hosts Book Beginnings on Fridays.
Click the blue link for more book beginnings.

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Mind-blowing facts ~ and a couple of words

I was making a turkey sandwich today, when I remembered the time I exasperated my mother by take so long to spread mustard on a slice of bread.  The memory made me smile.  I remember that I was carefully spreading mustard (or maybe it was mayonnaise) to the edge of each slice of bread.  I was being very meticulous about it, watching how the mustard spread.  Mother wanted me to hurry up and be done.  I don't remember the details, just that I was surprised it bothered her.  It impressed me enough that I have remembered it for more than seven decades now.

Word of the Day #1

exasperated / iɡˈzaspəreədəd / verb (past tense) = irritated or annoyed.  Example:  "I exasperated my mother by taking so long to spread the mustard on that slice of bread."

77 Mind-Blowing Facts

This morning, I ran across this BuzzFeed article of interesting facts.  My favorites are the ones about words:
5. "umop apisdn" is "upside down" spelled upside down with different letters of the alphabet.
17.  The word "swims" upside-down is still "swims."  [It works better with capital letters:  SWIMS.]
24.  Every "C" in "Pacific Ocean" is pronounced differently.
61.  Every single odd number has an "e" in it.  [Yeah, check it out:  one, three, five, seven, nine.)
63.  "Will Will Smith smith?" and "Will Smith will smith" are sentences that make complete sense.
70.  The "ea" in "tea" is silent.
And then there's THIS to ponder:
75.  At the time the current oldest person on Earth was born, there was a completely different set of human beings on the planet.
Word of the Day #2
mind-boggling / mahynd-bog-ling / adjective (slang) = mind-blowing; intellectually overwhelming.  Example:  "That there was a completely different set of people on the planet when the current oldest person on Earth was born is understandable, but completely mind-boggling to me."

The $2 bill ~ on TWOsday

Do you have a $2 bill?  Do you keep it in your wallet, or do you have it put away in a special place at home?  For your information, a $2 bill really is spendable money.  I had one in my wallet in 2013 when I first shared this story about what one man claims happened to him.  Now I have two of them, but no longer in my wallet.


On my way home from work, I stopped at Taco Bell for a quick bite to eat.  I have a $50 bill and a $2 bill.  I figure with the $2 bill, I can get something to eat and not have to worry about irritating anyone for trying to break a $50 bill.

Me:  "Hi, I'd like one seven-layer burrito please, to go."
Server:  "That'll be $1.04.  Eat in?"
Me:  "No, it's to go."  At this point, I open my billfold and hand him the $2 bill.  He looks at it kind of funny.
Server:  "Uh, hang on a sec.  I'll be right back."
He goes to talk to his manager, who is still within my earshot.  The following conversation occurs between the two of them:
Server:  "Hey, you ever see a $2 bill?"
Manager:  "No.  A what?"
Server:  "A $2 bill.  This guy just gave it to me."
Manager:  "Ask for something else.  There's no such thing as a $2 bill."
Server:  "Yeah, thought so."
He comes back to me and says, "We don't take these.  Do you have anything else?"
Me:  "Just this fifty.  You don't take $2 bills?  Why?"
Server:  "I don't know."
Me:  "See here where it says legal tender?"
Server:  "Yeah."
Me:  "So, why won't you take it?"
Server:  "Well, hang on a sec."
He goes back to his manager, who has been watching me like I'm a shoplifter, and says to him, "He says I have to take it."
Manager:  "Doesn't he have anything else?"
Server:  "Yeah, a fifty.  I'll get it, and you can open the safe and get change."
Manager:  "I'm not opening the safe with him in here."
Server:  "What should I do?"
Manager:  "Tell him to come back later when he has real money."
Server:  "I can't tell him that!  You tell him."
Manager:  "Just tell him."
Server:  "No way!  This is weird.  I'm going in back."
The manager approaches me and says, "I'm sorry, but we don't take big bills this time of night."
Me:  "It's only seven o'clock!  Well then, here's a two dollar bill."
Manager:  "We don't take those, either."
Me:  "Why not?"
Manager:  "I think you know why."
Me:  "No really, tell me why."
Manager:  "Please leave before I call mall security."
Me:  "Excuse me?"
Manager:  "Please leave before I call mall security."
Me:  "What on earth for?"
Manager:  "Please, sir."
Me:  "Uh, go ahead, call them."
Manager:  "Would you please just leave?"
Me:  "No."
Manager:  "Fine.  Have it your way then."
Me:  "Hey, that's Burger King, isn't it?"

At this point, he backs away from me and calls mall security on the phone around the corner.  I have two people staring at me from the dining area, and I begin laughing out loud, just for effect.  A few minutes later this 45-year-oldish guy comes in.

Guard:  "Yeah, Mike, what's up?"
Manager (whispering):  "This guy is trying to give me some" . . . (pause) . . . "funny money."
Guard:  "No kidding!  What?"
Manager:  "Get this.  A two-dollar bill."
Guard (incredulous):  "Why would a guy fake a two dollar bill?"
Manager:  "I don't know.  He's kinda weird.  He says the only other thing he has is a fifty."
Guard:  "Oh, so the fifty's fake!"
Manager:  "No, the two dollar bill is."
Guard:  "Why would he fake a two dollar bill?"
Manager:  "I don't know!  Can you talk to him and get him out of here?"
Guard:  "Yeah."
Security Guard walks over to me and . . . . . .

Guard:  "Mike here tells me you have some fake bills you're trying to use."
Me:  "Uh, no."
Guard:  "Lemme see 'em."
Me:  "Why?"
Guard:  "Do you want me to get the cops in here?"
At this point I'm ready to say, "Sure, please!"  But I want to eat, so I say, "I'm just trying to buy a burrito and pay for it with this two dollar bill."

I put the bill up near his face, and he flinches like I'm taking a swing at him.  He takes the bill, turns it over a few times in his hands, and he says, "Hey, Mike, what's wrong with this bill?"
Manager:  "It's fake."
Guard:  "It doesn't look fake to me."
Manager:  "But it's a two dollar bill."
Guard:  "Yeah?"
Manager:  "Well, there's no such thing, is there?"

The security guard and I both look at him like he's an idiot, and it dawns on the guard that the guy has no clue and is an idiot.  So, it turns out that my burrito was free, and the manager threw in a small drink and some of those cinnamon thingies, too.

Made me want to get a whole stack of two dollar bills just to see what happens when I try to buy stuff.

Monday, November 23, 2020

Well-being during isolation

Jane S. sent me this list, which I can probably use for my well-being.
  • Shower, take my meds, and drink 6-8 glasses of water a day.  Each glass is 8 fluid ounces, so drink 48-64 fluid ounces a day.  Got it, but don't we need six or eight little boxes to check off?
  • Clean one thing/space.  I've been sorting through books and papers, tossing some and trying to arrange my bookshelves so they make more sense for me.
  • Tend something growing/living.  That would be Clawdia, who doesn't hesitate to tell me when she wants to eat.  I used to have spider plants and other potted plants, but I gave them away because Clawdia could get sick or die from nibbling on some of them.  And she did nibble.  She is also feeling stressed out, picking up on the feelings of humans around her and our strange behavior, like wearing masks just to walk to the trash chute.  Clawdia likes to get out of our apartment by walking to the other end of the hall with me, but lately she stops at our door and peers out fearfully.  Sometimes, she turns around and hurries back into our apartment.
  • Be mindfully present to a sound or song.  I hear the sounds of traffic on the highway, and Clawdia alerts me to any noises she hears coming from the hallway outside our apartment door.  I have learned to tune into the sound of sirens, especially ones that cut off suddenly, and I go to my windows to see if an ambulance is arriving at my senior living facility.  Yeah, it happens too regularly.
  • Be mindfully present to a sensory feeling.  The five senses are seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, and touching.  Let's see, I definitely check my sense of smell frequently, knowing that loss of smell is a symptom of the Coronavirus.  Yes, I can smell and taste the tomato, the corn, the mushroom barley soup.
  • Be mindfully present to something I see.  I've been noticing the people in my neighborhood, now that I've spent months staying at home and looking out my windows.  People walking dogs, delivery vans, family groups with baby buggies.  I've been surprised how many walk in the street.  Part of that is that they are distancing themselves from slower walkers on the sidewalks.  I can see Walgreen's from my kitchen window, and recently I saw a young man apparently walking home along my street, swinging two big bags that each looked very much like 12-packs of toilet paper!  Aha, that young man is stocking up again.
  • Be mindfully present to a spiritual practice.  Meditation is a spiritual practice that I do.  Clear your mind, and sit quietly for a few minutes listening to this music from YouTube.  This one also has calm, relaxing photos of pleasant places.  Enjoy it, and relax as you are being mindful.
  • Reach out to a human outside my home.  I text, talk on the phone, and send private Facebook messages every single day.  I don't always have to do the reaching, either, as others also want contact.
  • Do one thing to get my heart rate up.  I need to work on this more regularly.  It's easier to exercise when I have to meet with a group on a regular basis, than it is to make myself exercise alone in my apartment.
  • Do one thing I'll be glad I did later.  Making myself go to sleep at a reasonable hour is something I'll be glad I did, but it's hard to stop reading when there's nowhere I need to go tomorrow and nowhere I need to be.
  • Do one thing just because I want to.  I love to write, so writing this blog post is what I enjoy doing.
  • Get in at least one good laugh.  I like puns, so posting puns on my blog and on Facebook keeps me laughing.  Let's end with this one from The Book on the Bookshelf by Henry Petroski, 1997, page 222:
"The more things change, the more they remain insane."

Sunday, November 22, 2020

Laugh with me

This starts like a quote from the Bible, but uses only the first part of it:
"As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord."
— Joshua 24:15
But then the familiar verse veers off to become a pun:
"As for me and my house, we will stay where we at."
— 1st Isolations 24:7
"First Isolations."  Yes, we've been there, haven't we?  Did you notice the reference to 24/7 (which is almost, but not quite, chapter and verse from the Bible)?  I've stayed in my apartment 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, except when I go down to check my mail every two or three days or meet the grocery delivery person at our entrance so we don't have strangers wandering through our buildings.  The good news is that no one at the Crown Center has gotten the coronavirus, as far as I know.  Following the advice to stay home, wear a mask, and social distance from others seems to be working.

When I posted this on Facebook, I asked if I should correct "where we at" to "where we are."  My friend Kathy said, "Leave the typo alone, Bonnie.  It’s the language of the people."  She showed a laughing emoji, but I still wondered, is it the language of the people?  Which people?  I responded to Kathy with a sort-of question, "It's where we at these days, huh?"  Sorry, but that sounds so wrong to me.  I guess I can't change 80 years of trying to learn the right words and use correct grammar.  Is "where we at" okay with you?  Or not?  Maybe as part of a joke?

Calvin's mind was wandering.  His teacher yells, "Calvin, pay attention!!  We're studying geography!"  Then she asks him what state he lives in, and Calvin says, "Denial."  She can't argue with that.  How many non-maskers are living there with Calvin?  (Click to enlarge the illustrations.)

Saturday, November 21, 2020

Books bought recently

The Hyphenateds: How Emergence Christianity Is Re-Traditioning Mainline Practice ~ edited by Phil Snider, foreword by Phyllis Tickle, 2011, religion, 162 pages
Can emergence Christianity help established denominations understand that radical transformation means more than a new worship service?  When hearing complainst that church is irrelevant, can mainliners understand that reclaiming relevancy means more than changing meeting locations from church buildings to coffeeshops?  Yes, say the writers of this book, as they show you how they've done it.
A Gospel of Hope ~ by Walter Brueggemann, 2018, religion, 151 pages
Beloved and respected by scholars, preachers, and laity alike, Walter Brueggemann offers penetrating insights on Scripture and prophetic diagnoses of our culture.  Instead of maintaining what is safe and routine, he encourages readers to embrace the audacity required to live out one’s faith.  This volume gathers Brueggemann’s wisdom on topics ranging from anxiety and abundance to partisanship and the role of faith in public life.
A Call to Action: Women, Religion, Violence, and Power ~ by Jimmy Carter, 2014, women's rights, 211 pages
Carter draws upon his own experiences and the testimony of courageous women from all regions and all major religions to demonstrate that women around the world, more than half of all human beings, are being denied equal rights.  This is an informed and passionate charge about a devastating effect on economic prosperity and unconscionable human suffering.  It affects us all.
Re-Discovering the Sacred: Spirituality in America ~ by Phyllis A. Tickle, 1995, religion, 190 pages
More Americans than ever are reading spiritual books.  What are they looking for?  What have they found?  What does it all mean?  Phyllis Tickle examines our hunger for sacred meaning, synthesizes key elements of an evolving spirituality, and reveals Christianity to be a treasure chest for seekers in the future.
Jesus: Uncovering the Life, Teachings and Relevance of a Religious Revolutionary ~ by Marcus J. Borg, 2006, religion, 343 pages
American Christians are deeply divided about what it means to follow Jesus.  Borg takes us on a journey to discover who Jesus was, what he taught, and why he still matters today.  Jesus was a religious revolutionary who taught transformation, not doctrine, and emphasized practices rather than beliefs.
Saving Paradise: How Christianity Traded Love of This World for Crucifixion and Empire ~ by Rita Nakashima Brock and Rebecca Ann Parker, 2008, religion, 552 pages
During their first millennium, Christians filled their sanctuaries with images of Christ as a living presence-as a shepherd, teacher, healer, or an enthroned god.  He is serene and surrounded by lush scenes, depictions of this world as paradise.  Yet once he appeared as crucified, dying was virtually all Jesus seemed able to do, and paradise disappeared from the earth.  This book turns a fascinating new lens on Christianity, from its first centuries to the present day, asking how its early vision of beauty evolved into a vision of torture, and what changes in society and theology marked that evolution.

Friday, November 20, 2020

Beginning ~ on Christmas Eve

London, Christmas Eve, 1931
Maisie Dobbs, Psychologist and Investig-ator, picked up her fountain pen to sign her name at the end of a final report that she and her assistant, Billy Beale, had worked late to complete the night before.
Among the Mad: A Maisie Dobbs Novel ~ by Jacqueline Winspear, 2009, fiction (England)
Christmas Eve, 1931.  On the way to see a client, Maisie Dobbs witnesses a man commit suicide on a busy London street.  The following day, the Prime Minister’s office receives a letter threatening a massive loss of life if certain demands are not met — and the writer mentions Maisie by name.  Tapped by Scotland Yard’s elite Special Branch to be a special adviser on the case, Maisie is soon involved in a race against time to find a man who proves he has the knowledge and will to inflict destruction on thousands of innocent people.
This is the sixth book in the series, which has fifteen books so far.  Number sixteen will be published in 2021.  That beginning may sound bland but, this far into the series, I know she's just wrapping up old work and is ready to start on the next case.  I have liked some better than others so far, but they are all good.  So I'm ready to start reading.

Gilion at Rose City Reader hosts Book Beginnings on Fridays.
Click the blue link for more book beginnings.

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Foggy brain? Here's a big hug

I got online earlier today to post about my dream, the one I was still smiling about when I awoke.  So I wrote about Native Americans, words, a fat squirrel, and my mother.  Nowhere in that list is my dream.  Now that my foggy thinking (from staying home alone, maybe, during this pandemic?) has let me remember my dream, here 'tis, as my friend Jane Yelliott used to say.  (The photo shows my friend Donna on the right and Jane with a mouthful of food, when the three of us ate Chinese food to celebrate the Chinese New Year in 2012.  We all three wore Chinese red that day.  Jane died at the end of December 2013, a few months before I moved to St. Louis.  I still miss you, Jane.)

Anyway, my dream was wonderful because I got to hug somebody in it.  Remember when we could hug our friends?  Remember when we could even get NEAR people?  It used to be "normal" to shake hands, clap someone on the back, and share a hug with people you care about.  In my dream, a woman I knew only slightly was sitting in the room with me and others, and I said to her, "You look like you need a hug."  She smiled at me, so I got up and went over to give her a big, bear hug.  I woke up realizing that I can still do that in my dreams.

People who know me, know that I'm a hugger.  In the 1980's when I lived in Atlanta, one woman would always spread her arms wide when she saw me in the hall at church.  She was elderly, though she was probably younger than I am now, and that hug from me may have been the only hug she got all week.  It was special, and she looked forward to it.  If you have trouble reading the printed words beside that picture of Lucy hugging Snoopy, it says, "A hug is better than all the theology in the world."  Leave a comment for me if you need a hug right now, and I'll send you a big virtual hug from me.

Thursday Thoughts

Mocs on the Capitol floor

November is Native American Heritage month, and one way to celebrate it is the #RockYourMocs campaign, a nationwide event that began in 2011 and encourages people to wear their favorite moccasins, take a picture, and share it online. This past Tuesday, Native social media exploded when US Representative Deb Haaland (D-NM, Laguna Pueblo) shared her moccasins photo, taken on the Capitol floor.  And now for the rest of the story, as Paul Harvey used to say.  Deb Haaland is being vetted for the post of Secretary of the Interior.  One of her colleagues (one being promoted for the job himself) has said of her:
"It is well past time that an Indigenous person brings history full circle at the Department of Interior.  As her colleague on the Natural Resources Committee, I have seen first-hand the passion and dedication she puts into these issues at the forefront of the Interior Department, from tackling the epidemic of missing and murdered Indigenous women to crafting thoughtful solutions to combating the climate crisis using America’s public lands."
Many support her for the job.  When asked about being considered for the cabinet, Haaland said, "There’s no doubt it would be historic.  It would be symbolic, and it would be profound, especially when we think about how the federal government essentially threw out their federal Indian policies throughout the centuries and tried to exterminate Native Americans across the country."

Word of the Day #1
to vet (something) / verb = to make a careful and critical examination of (something).  Similar words = appraise, evaluate, assess, consider, check out, thoroughly investigate (someone), especially in order to ensure that they are suitable for a job.  Example:  "Deb Haaland (D-NM) is being vetted for the job of Interior Secretary."
Hey, little squirrel.  You are supposed to squirrel away those nuts you love to eat.  Collect them for the winter, so you won't go hungry.  You aren't supposed to eat everything you find.
Word of the Day #2
squirrel away = to put (something) in a safe or secret place, especially so that it can be kept for future use.  Example:  "Most of his money is squirreled away somewhere."  [This definition is from Dictionary.]
Remembering my mother 

Mother died on this day in 2004, so she's on my mind right now.  Here's a photo where she was being silly and showing her playful side.  I miss seeing her beautiful smile.  She would like this quote about prayer:
Mother Teresa said:  "I used to pray that God would feed the hungry, or do this or that, but now I pray that [God] will guide me to do whatever I'm supposed to do, what I can do.  I used to pray for answers, but now I'm praying for strength.  I used to believe that prayer changes things, but now I know that prayer changes us and we change things."

Volunteers at Crown Center

One of the things I like about living at the Crown Center for Senior Living is the fact that we can volunteer for all sorts of jobs that help keep the place functioning beautifully.  Before the pandemic halted our gathering together, volunteers (from the community, as well as residents) brought the evening meals to our tables from the kitchen where food is prepared.

Some residents volunteered at what we call the Link Desk, which is at the entrance located between our two high-rise buildings.  Their job was to direct visitors to the management office or to the correct building to find those they came to see, as well as having them sign the visitors book upon entering.  Some of us agreed to be "ambassadors," whose job was to orient newcomers who had just moved in.  We showed them where to find our little library, the fitness center, the laundry rooms, the culinary kitchen, the media center, the dining room.  We accompanied them to events or explained how to sign up for bus trips, and so forth.

Another volunteer position is changing the bulletin boards located at the elevators on each floor.  This may be the only volunteer job currently being done, since one person does each job.  I've been doing the board on the sixth floor in my building, and occasionally I have blogged about whatever I've put there.  Last week, I went to the seventh floor of my building to do laundry and noticed not only the bulletin board at the elevator, but the one inside the laundry room.  So I'm sharing those three today.  Clicking on the pictures should enlarge them.

Top photo:  Laundry room on the 7th floor.
That's the November 2020 calendar hanging lowest.
Middle photo:  By the elevator on the 7th floor.
At the center is original art painted by artist David Kaskowitz, who lives on that floor.
Bottom photo:  At the elevator on the 6th floor.
These animals and birds came from calendars.  The one at top center has words that say something like, "If you don't know where you're going, any path will get you there."

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Crown Center donations

Did you know you can donate to the Crown Center when you order from Amazon?  I've changed my choice to make it happen.  "You have changed your charity to Crown Center.  Generate donations for charity by placing orders here, at"

Sunday, November 15, 2020

Gratitude Scavenger Hunt ~ 2nd time around

This scavenger hunt gets a do-over, since I only covered the first two items last year.

1.  What makes me happy?  Books!
2.  What can I give my friend Donna to make her smile?  Books!
3.  What do I love to smell?  New books!
4.  What do I enjoy looking at?  Book covers!

Do you spot a bookish trend here?  Books, of course, on a book blog.

So what's that sloth doing up at the top of this post, hanging onto a twig on a Christmas tree?  There were sloths in last year's gratitude hunt, too.  One was this sloth on the cover of the book I had gotten to give Donna that day.  In pre-COVID days, Donna used to play Bananagrams with friends every weekend, and they learned that "ai" is a two-letter word for a three-toed sloth.  An excellent word for their game.

When I found the picture of the Christmas ornament from Crate and Barrel that is "fashioned out of boiled wool," I sent it to Donna and suggested she could hang it around her neck to wear at her next in-person game of Bananagrams.  She wrote back, "So cute, but I given up hope of in-person Bananagrams."  COVID-19 is making us despair of every being able to sit around the table together again.  Wear your masks, folks!

Now back to the Gratitude Scavenger Hunt.

5.  Find something that's your favorite color.
Green is my favorite color.  I still see green leaves on some trees out my windows, though some turned yellow and orange and red, and their leaves blew off in our recent high winds.
6.  Find something you are thankful for in nature.
I think I just did that.  I'm thankful for the trees, the green ones, the yellow ones, the orange ones, and the red ones.  I'm even thankful for the ones lifting their bare arms to the heavens.
7.  Find something that you can use to make a gift for someone.
The only thing I can think of to "make" a gift for anyone during this time I'm still staying home and going nowhere (I even get groceries delivered) is my little plastic bank card.  Coronavirus reality says the best way to "make" a gift is to order something online.
8.  Find something that is useful for you.
Useful?  Lots of things are useful.  My eating utensils are useful.  My computer is useful, especially so I can share my thoughts in a blog post like this.  The food on my shelves and in my refrigerator is useful.  Heck, my BOOKS are useful, especially when I want to learn something new or escape into a story.
Your turn. What are you grateful for today?

The trees were orange last week, when I took this photo of Clawdia sitting in the open window.  Today, the trees are bare, and I can see cars on the street through them.

Friday, November 13, 2020

Beginning ~ with Neanderthal graves

"Human beings have always been mythmakers.  Archae-ologists have unearthed Neanderthal graves containing weapons, tools and the bones of a sacrificed animal, all of which suggest some kind of belief in a future world that was similar to their own."
A Short History of Myth ~ by Karen Armstrong, 2005, history
Human beings have always been mythmakers.  What are myths, and how have they evolved?  Why do we still so desperately need them?  The history of myth is the history of humanity; our stories and beliefs, our curiosity and attempts to understand the world, link us to our ancestors and each other.  Myths help us make sense of the universe.  Armstrong takes us from the Paleolithic period and the myths of the hunters right up to the "Great Western Transformation" of the last five hundred years and the discrediting of myth by science.

Gilion at Rose City Reader hosts Book Beginnings on Fridays.
Click this link for more book beginnings.

Thursday, November 12, 2020

Exercising, banana bread, and a scam



Ziggy was letting his mind wander at the end of October last year, but by early February (before our pandemic lockdown) Ziggy had advanced to mental gymnastics.  Is that progress?

Banana bread

Sharon, who lives at the other end of my hall, sent me a text saying there was "hot banana bread" in the box beside my door.  I had already cut a bite off the end before I thought to take a picture so I could share it with the world (the way young folks do these days).  Sharon has shared some great food with me, like this warm cornbread Clawdia wanted to taste, which was delicious with that carton of cold milk in the photo.  Thanks, Sharon.


This comment left on one of my FB posts is what's wrong with Facebook.
Travis Norrebro
Hello how are you doing I am sorry for intruding into your privacy I'm very sure that nobody is going to see that beautiful smile of yours and skip your profile without sending a have interesting profile that caught my heart and attention it would be rude sending you friend request without your consent I'd love to know you more and let's talk and see what the future holds for us why don't you send me friend request and we can go from there and thank you ..
"What the future holds for us"?  Yuck!  Here's the cartoon this scammer chose to "hit on."  I posted it September 25th, but he didn't leave the comment until yesterday.  The person supposedly lives in Burlington, Vermont, is from Copenhagen, and is widowed.  And he has NO friends listed on Facebook.  Not a single one.  I deleted his comment.

Hmmm.  My Facebook link shows my name; here's his link (is this his REAL name?):

Monday, November 9, 2020

A knitted sweater and a white pantsuit

A few days ago, I blogged about how some of us dealt with our election anxiety issues.  My friend Jane S. let me know that she's been knitting.  When I asked to see photos of what she's made, she sent this one of a sweater she knitted for a friend's baby.  It's beautiful!  The baby is cute, but it's the sweater that amazes me.  I'm very impressed.

So how have you spent your time during the pandemic?

Speaking of clothing, how about that white pantsuit Kamala Harris was wearing on the night she and Joe Biden addressed the nation to accept their nomination?  Did you notice what she was wearing?  Read CNN's article about why that white suit speaks volumes.  Even the bow on her blouse has meaning.
"The color white has long been associated with the women's suffrage movement . . . [Kamala] was standing on the shoulders of Shirley Chisholm, who wore white as she became the first African American woman elected to Congress in 1968.  She was standing on the shoulders of Geraldine Ferraro, who wore all-white to accept the role of Walter Mondale's running mate in his 1984 presidential campaign.  She was standing on the shoulders of Hillary Clinton, who wore a signature white pantsuit to accept the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016."
Maybe too much is made of women's clothing, but this was symbolic in a good way on a night that made history.  She is "the first female, first Black, and first South Asian vice president-elect" in our history.  Click that link for another CNN article from a couple of days ago.  She's making history!

Shirley Chisholm, Geraldine Ferraro, and Hillary Clinton are in that quote.  What about Rosa Parks and Ruby Bridges?  Rosa refusing to give up her seat on the bus.  Little Ruby walking to school as the first Black child.  Their pictures are on Facebook now, with these words:
"Rosa sat, so Ruby could walk, so Kamala could run."

Sunday, November 8, 2020

A book, a window, a cat, and a word

I got my dictionary off the shelf yesterday to look up a couple of words, which became three before I finished writing my blog post.  When I opened the book, I noticed I had put my name in it, along with the date when I bought it.  I grinned when I realized I'd gotten this much-used book 25 years ago this month.  The date was 11/2/95, and I paid $19.95 for it, making it a rather expensive book for the time.

I also noticed it has a presentation page.  "Presented to __________ By _______ Date ______."  Who presents dictionaries to people?  And why?  Have you ever "presented" a dictionary to someone?  If so, tell me, what was the occasion?

View from My Window

My friend Sharon invited me to join a new Facebook group called View from My Window.  It's kind of like WindowSwap, but we put up our own recent view from a window, saying where we're from.  Only one post a day per person.  Next time I may show them this picture of Clawdia in her window with fall-colored trees between me and the tall buildings of Clayton.  The sun was setting from the west (off to the right), casting shadows across our street when I snapped this view yesterday.

Being helpful

If you've ever had a cat, you realize how "helpful" they can be.  Here's a photo of Clawdia, for example, napping on my clipboard while I was trying to take notes during a Zoom meeting.  It couldn't have been the least bit comfortable, sleeping on that hard surface.  But she did it, by golly!  Just to be helpful, ya know.  Okay, I know that sounds rather catty.

Word of the Day
cat·ty / ˈkadē / adjective = deliberately hurtful in one's remarks; spiteful.  Example:  "That catty remark was uncalled for."  Similar:  snide.  Opposite:  kind, complimentary.

Bloggers gather in The Sunday Salon — at separate computers in different time zones — to talk about our lives and our reading.

Saturday, November 7, 2020

Picking hops from the bine

I'm reading the fifth book in the Maisie Dobbs series (An Incomplete Revenge, 2008), which has Billy Beale and others leaving London to go "pick hops" in Kent.  I'd heard the word "hops," but I could not have defined it if asked.  I just knew it was related to beer, somehow.  At first, I actually thought "bine" was a typo for "vine."  I got my dictionary off the shelf to look up "hops" and "bine."

Word of the Day #1
hop / häp / noun = a twining climbing plant of the hemp family, used in brewing beer; the dried cones (flowers) of the hop, used in brewing to give a bitter flavor and as a mild sterilant.  Example:  "You might find me picking hops with the Beales, if I have to," Maisie Dobbs said to Billy Beale (p. 20).
Word of the Day #2
bine / bīn / noun = a long, flexible stem of a climbing plant, especially the hop.  Example:  "I've seen them growing, seen the men out stringing for the bines to grow up and the women banding-in and training the shoots along the strings in late spring.  But I know nothing about the actual business of hop-picking," Maisie told Billy (p. 20).
In definition #1, there's a word I don't remember ever seeing:  sterilant.  So it becomes the third word I need to look up.

Word of the Day #3
ster·i·lant / ˈsterələnt / noun = an agent used to destroy micro-organisms; a disinfectant; a chemical agent used to destroy pests and diseases in the soil, especially fungi and nematodes.  This example is more of a definition:  "A sterilant is a chemical that is applied to inanimate objects to kill all microorganisms as well as spores."
The black-and-white photo at the top comes from an article about London Hop pickers c. 1900-1949.  If you look closely, it sure looks like a twining vine around the man (in my opinion).  Now go take a look at the nineteen historical photos in the article I found.  Don't you wonder what job these two men on stilts did?  Look how tall the hops are in the picture.  Maybe they are the "men out stringing for the bines to grow up" that Maisie mentioned.